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Nick serves gatekeepers with new web hub

Every brand manager worth their salt knows how crucial it is to curry favor with parents, who have an ever-keener interest in their kids' media consumption habits. But launching a thinly veiled campaign to win them over will only make media-savvy moms and dads doubt your motives. Nickelodeon, a natural role model for many kids entertainment companies, may have found a way to win parents' respect by engaging them in an outlet designed just for them.
January 1, 2007

Every brand manager worth their salt knows how crucial it is to curry favor with parents, who have an ever-keener interest in their kids’ media consumption habits. But launching a thinly veiled campaign to win them over will only make media-savvy moms and dads doubt your motives. Nickelodeon, a natural role model for many kids entertainment companies, may have found a way to win parents’ respect by engaging them in an outlet designed just for them.

For the past several months, Nick has been working on a multi-dimensional interactive parenting website. Without a self-promotional Nick toon pop-up or banner ad in sight, Parentsconnect.com is an online community for parents and caregivers that speaks to them and keeps quiet about what it has lined up for their kids. ‘This is another step in our company’s online strategy to super-serve passionate, targeted audiences…in this case, parents,’ says Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks.

The site, which is slated to go live later on this quarter, lets users search for parent-to-parent advice and activities by age of child, personal interest and location. Parents can develop customized home pages and use discussion boards to connect with each other and share their child-rearing experiences. Twenty trained moderators, who are parents themselves, serve as ‘host parents,’ recommending articles or links and helping users navigate the site and maintain blogs. In addition, GoCityKids.com, which Nickelodeon recently acquired, is featured on the site as a guide to local family activities and events.

In terms of its business model, Parentsconnect will feature display advertising, as well as contextual, integrated and direct marketing for products geared to families. Nissan, for example, was a major advertiser for the beta-launch with messaging touting its family-friendly 2007 Nissan Quest.

Nick will kick its parental outreach up a notch in Q4, when it plans to add a hub for user-generated broadband video to the site. This move is bound to be a hit with the target demo, since most of them love nothing better than showing videos of their little cuties. ‘Every parent wants to share their child’s first day of school or other milestone moments,’ says Tanya Van Court, SVP of preschool and parents online at Nickelodeon. ‘But there isn’t a great place for them to do that today and share it with a community that really understands and cares about it as much as they do.’

The gameplan also calls for local discussion boards, user-created polls and clubs, newsletters based on specific community interests and more social networking features down the line. KC

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